I(SU 10354343 - SU 10724353) Cursus (AT). The "Lesser Cursus", an oblong enclosure 1350ft long and between 155 and 190ft wide; open at the east end. ? Neolithic. (2) The "Lesser Cursus" lies on arable land, and is exposed to heavy ploughing. A scarp of 0.1 metre remains. Published 1:2500 survey correct. (3)
(SU 10354345 - SU 10734352) The Lesser Cursus is situated along the summit of a flat-topped ridge. It is aligned WSW-ENE and is 400m long and 60m wide, and comprised of a bank with an external ditch. Air photographs show it was visible as an earthwork in 1934 but by 1954 it had been levelled. The absence of the ditch at the eastern end has given rise to the suggestion that the cursus was unfinished. The presence of a bank and ditch crossing the cursus 200m from the western end and the constriction of the north and south side has lead to the interpretation that construction took place in two stages; the first a short cursus extending east as far as the cross bank, the second an unfinished extension continuing to the east, however, the position of the ditch on the west side of the cross bank casts doubt on this. Three areas of the cursus were excavated as part of the Stonehenge Environs Project (W55), two phases of construction were identified and were indistinguishable on the basis of radio-carbon dates obtained. Evidence for Phase I is provided by two short lengths of ditch representing either a marker ditch, or part of a trapezoidal enclosure with a small ditch and interior bank, 200m by 60m.
Phase 2. The enclosure was enlarged removing most of the phase 1 ditches, the position of the internal bank is maintained and enhanced with the exception of the newly enlarged cross ditch, the bank of which is now on the east side. The monument was extended eastwards by parallel ditches with internal banks, the eastern end appears to have been deliberately left open. A ceremonial deposit of antlers was recorded in the southern flanking ditch.
All of the phase 2 ditches except the cross ditch, appear to have been deliberately back-filled almost immediately after the original excavation.
The excavations produced Later Neolithic - Later Bronze Age pottery, animal bone including worked bone, and worked flint. Most of the flint assemblage was recovered from the ploughsoil or from the upper colluvial ditch fills, its composition and spatial distribution shows that a focus of Bronze Age activity was situated immediately beyond the eastern end of the cursus. (5)
The Lesser Cursus is visible as a very slight earthwork, and later as a cropmark, on aerial photographs, and has been mapped by both RCHME's Salisbury Plain Training Area NMP and EH's Stonehenge WHS Mapping Project. (8-12)
A possible Neolithic hengiform enclosure was discovered by geophysical survey in the early 1990s, within the eastern half of the Stonehenge Lesser Cursus (Monument Number 219543). It is defined by a single causewayed ditch that forms an egg-shaped enclosure, with the pointed end to the north-east, which measures circa 15m long by 13m wide. The causeways are clearest at the south-western end. Some pits in and around the enclosure may be associated with its use.